Chapter 16 – The Dogs of War

“Yes, I’m doing OK. I bought a little house a couple of years ago, so I don’t have to move every time the landlord raises the rent. I have a sailboat and entertain a bit. I’m still on the road a lot so I still feel a bit empty. Socially it’s not much different from trucking except for better status. All in all, I can’t complain. But I must say, what you’ve told me about your life since Saigon is, if not really Shakespearian heroic, certainly grand; I mean on a grand scale. These are things that just don’t happen to ordinary people, it’s more like what government’s do. But than I’ve never thought you were ordinary either.”

“You did when we first met.”

“Ah yes, you did correct me about the ordinary secretary role.”

I stretched my arms and rolled my neck and said, “It really has been a great afternoon and evening but I should be going. I just want to say that today, meeting you again, has been such a boost; to remember what a great feeling it was to be in Saigon, remembering what I’d accomplished just starting out; and knowing you had my back and that I had you to bounce my thoughts off. And then, and then we were so fond of each other. — And one more thing; I do want to be able to find you again. Will you give me your number?”

Parrying my question she said, “It’s my fault but you’ve had way too much to drink to be driving anywhere. You should spend the night here. I’d feel terrible if you got pulled over or worse.”

“Umm, that’s a generous offer.” My mind was racing back to that last night at Su lin’s apartment. That was the last time I’d seen her.

“I know, you’re thinking we’ll sleep together, maybe for old time’s sake. But it can’t be. The bonds are too strong even if they’re old. They’ll entwine us again. Then what? She paused. “It would light a fire again and neither of us wants to sweep out the ashes when it’s done.

“You shouldn’t drive but you shouldn’t sleep with me either. There is bedding folded up on the bed in the spare bedroom. I’ll help you make it up.”

I woke in the morning fuzzy headed and a bit hung over. I’d have to go back to the hotel and shave and get a clean shirt before going to Tustin. I smelled coffee. Agnes had made coffee and was sitting at the table when I walked into the kitchen. She smiled. “Did you sleep well?”

“No. There were troubling dreams. I don’t remember about what.”

“That’s the way it usually goes. Here have a cup of coffee for the road,” she said pouring coffee from an old-time, silver, electric percolator. “Milk or sugar?”

“Milk please.”

I sat down at the table a little too heavily and jostled the full cup. “Oh, damn. Sorry,” I said nervously wiping the table with a paper napkin left form dinner.

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